“The only reason I have a kitchen is because it came with the house.” I saw this quote a few weeks ago and it made me giggle. While this isn’t necessarily true for all of us, I know many people that feel this way about cooking and being in the kitchen. For some it can be a lack of time, interest or just the intimidation of not knowing where to start when they do enter the kitchen. Having the right utensils, gadgets and kitchen set-up can make all the difference, whether you are a seasoned pro or brand new! One of the things I love most about food and cooking is how individualized and ever-changing it can be. From flavor preferences to cooking methods- simple or complex, each person has their own style and uniqueness.
I have several inspiring registered dietitian colleagues who have recently created very interesting and helpful cooking and food blogs. I go to their blogs or social media accounts frequently to check out new ideas or ways to change up my usual recipes. Their recipes vary in level of complexity and are a great resource for new and fun ideas to implement into your cooking repertoire. Since they “walk the talk” with cooking and confidence in the kitchen, I decided to reach out to them to see what tops their list for go-to kitchen gadgets, and things they find helpful when in the kitchen.
**Please note, we are not professionally involved with any of the listed kitchen gadgets or websites posted. This is strictly for ease of finding an item that is mentioned by the dietitians. **
ONION [VEGGIE] CHOPPER
Shannon A. Garcia, MDS, RD, LD with KISS in the Kitchen
“My favorite kitchen item would hands down be my cookware. I bought a set of All-Clad pots/pans last year and it's made a world of difference when cooking at home. No matter how simple or healthy a recipe may be, it can quickly become frustrating if a pot or pan isn't cooking evenly or worse- is next to impossible to clean up. My favorite gadget is my onion chopper (here) and it chops way more than onions. It saves so much time (and tears) and is an inexpensive tool to add to your kitchen!”
Shannon posted a super easy and healthy "Feast Day Soup" which she uses the above onion chopper to quickly chop all the veggies in the recipe.
ELECTRONIC MEAT THERMOMETER
Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LD with Elevate Nutrition Consulting
“One kitchen gadget I cannot do without is my electronic meat thermometer. I was always concerned about undercooked meat, so I would nearly destroy it each time by cutting too many times to check it, completely overcook it, or both! With an electronic meat thermometer that beeps when the appropriate internal temperature is reached, I can throw my meat on the grill, oven, or stovetop, and not have to think about it again. I can finish preparing the vegetables, straining noodles, or maybe even clean up the kitchen - all worry-free - and sit down to perfectly (and safely!) cooked protein every time.”
SPIRAL VEGETABLE SLICER
Emily Weeks, RDN, LD with Zen and Spice
“One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is a spiral vegetable slicer. If you're looking to increase your veggie intake in a tasty way, this is the perfect solution! I like to make zucchini noodles and combine them with angel hair for my shrimp scampi recipe. Using zucchini in place of half the pasta reduces the carb load of the meal and adds fiber, a serving of veggies and awesome taste! If you don't want to invest in a spiral slicer, a julienne peeler will also do the trick.”
Try Emily’s shrimp scampi recipe here
As for me, here are a few of the kitchen “gadgets” I use most.
A must have in any kitchen is a sharp, sturdy set of knives. Dull knives can be dangerous if they are increasing the difficulty of cutting. Just as Shannon mentioned about the difference a good set of pots and pans makes while cooking, I would say having sharp knives is equally important. Whether you are trimming meat, cutting fruit, or cutting your steak to eat, you want knifes that will get the job done. ALthough they can be pricey, they are a great investment!
A simple, yet very useful item to have is a colander/strainer… I actually have 8 of them- maybe overkill. My husband says I look for any reason to use them. He teases me for draining my 93/7 ground beef, even when there is nothing to drain. In all seriousness, colanders are great for draining noodles, washing fruits, rinsing quinoa, or anything else you might think of!
One of my more recent loves is stoneware. I have a stone baking sheet that is so versatile. I use mine for baking fish, baking cookies or even cooking a pizza. I also have a stone egg cooker which is great for cooking eggs quickly in the microwave, giving us a solid protein source in a hurry!
What is your favorite kitchen gadget or go to utensil? I would love to know. Whether you have an overstocked kitchen and need to pare down or you are just beginning to build your collection, make sure you have some of these traditional, yet go to items in your kitchen!